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Duke continues red zone recovery in loss to Seminoles

The most intriguing numbers to arise out of Duke’s Week 6 loss to Florida State:


Taking care of the ball was an issue for the Blue Devils Saturday against Florida State. Although the team ended up winning the time of possession battle, it was more a product of the Seminoles’ quick drives (like the 34 second first quarter scoring drive) than Duke’s ball movement. The Blue Devils recorded just one possession in the first half that lasted over three minutes, and that possession resulted Alex King’s fourth punt of the game.  Despite its quick drives, Florida State still managed three possessions lasting over three minutes.


Quarterback Sean Renfree spent most of this game on the ground.  The Seminoles’ pass rush got to Renfree five times, resulting in 30 lost yards. The sacks themselves weren’t as detrimental to the Duke offense as the timing of the sacks was—three times Renfree was brought down on first down, setting up second and very long.


The Seminoles’ defense didn’t just record sacks. Florida State ended the game with 10 tackles for a loss, costing Duke 43 yards. That was the farthest the Blue Devils were put back since their second game of the year against Stanford, where the Cardinal defense recorded 14 tackles for a loss netting 68 yards. Juwan Thompson was particularly brutalized. Coming off back-to-back multi-score games, Thompson managed just one yard on six carries, though he did find the endzone for the third straight week.


Facing a large deficit, Duke once gain found itself in four-down territory quite often. Luckily for the Blue Devils, they have excelled on fourth down.  Duke is 19.9% more successful on fourth down than they are on third down, albeit there is a much smaller sample size for fourth down conversions. After going 3-for-5 last week, Duke’s season fourth down percentage sits at 61.1%. Last week the Blue Devils were 5-for-17 on third down, lowering their season percentage to 40.2%.


One of the Blue Devils’ biggest early season troubles was the teams’ inability to finish drives in the redzone. After starting the season 4-for-10 in the red zone, thanks in large part to missed field goals, Duke has converted 13 straight times over the last three games. The Blue Devils have eight rushing touchdowns, two passing touchdowns, and three field goals in that span.


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